First, a bit of background.
Purpose of the WestGamer Tournament League:
The WestGamer Tournament League is a perpetual gaming competition to determine the best generals and hobbyists in the state, by measuring ongoing performance at WA tournament events. It has also been used as a benchmark reference for several important events in our Tournament scene to date, such as:
- 40K Australasian Team Challenge WA State Team selection
- WA qualifying invite for the national 40K Masters tournament
- WA qualifying invite for the national Warhammer Masters tournament
- Determining qualifiers for the annual WestGamer Ultimate Tournaments for 40K, Warhammer and Warmachine/Hordes
Overall, the League has had a relatively successful 1st year and I'm pretty pleased with how things have gone. Throughout the year I've spent a bit of time speaking to quite a few players and event organisers, and there is no doubt that the league has provided motivation for many and positively impacted the attendance of various events across the tournament calendar. I've also gotten some great feedback from people who clearly want to see this thing achieve its full potential, so every time I've spoken to someone about these various details, I've made a note for later consideration when we conduct this review.
Why not use Rankings HQ?
This is probably the most common question that I get asked about the league - and whilst I have answered it in detail previously
, I may as well do so again for clarity.
In simple terms, what we are seeking to do with the WestGamer leagues is to track the performance of players specifically at WA Events
. With the way Rankings HQ gathers and filters its data - it is actually not possible to obtain the results information stored there in this manner. You can create a "group" and only add WA players to it, but there is no option to remove events outside of WA from someone's personal score - which defeats what we are trying to achieve. We're tracking WA events - not just WA players.
This matters, because if a player has the money and the means to be able to travel around to a bunch of large tournaments across the country, then they potentially have a much greater opportunity to increase their ranking compared to others who simply can't afford to do this. The goal of the WestGamer leagues is primarily to promote and support WA events, as well as to measure player performance locally.
- RHQ uses a complex and non-transparent logic engine for calculating player rankings.
- It is housed on a 3rd party site, meaning that our tournament info and these rankings are not in the same location - which is inconvenient (separate accounts & logins required for full functionality).
- The RHQ data has been proven to be unreliable with the number of errors and player name issues that repeatedly crop up - and that's just the ones we have found.
- The event size brackets that RHQ uses to award points to tournament participants are representative of the East Coast scene, not WA.
- There is no control over the date range filter for RHQ data. It only filters the last 12 months from the date of enquiry.
- Duplication of player names in the system due to slightly different spelling. Something that can be avoided easily with local knowledge of the player base.
RHQ is a very handy tool for national rankings
, but it doesn't provide sufficient data at a local level for us.
One of the things I've received the most feedback about during the year is the issue of inclusivity for certain events (ie; whether a particular event meets the minimum standards established for adding its scores into the league tables or not) and why or why not they should be left out of the score tracking. In particular, there are a number of events that barely meet or just fall short of the minimum game size, number of rounds or number of participants required for inclusion in the league (12), and understandably this can be disappointing for some who would rather see their results added.
For reference, the current guidelines are as follows:
In order for an event's results to count towards the WestGamer Tournament League, it must meet the following minimum standards:
- The event must open to anyone from the gaming public (IE; not exclusive to a set club or group).
- The event must meet the minimum standard of 12 players (this minimum applies to the number of players competing from start to finish and does not include "ringers" or "stand-ins").
- Current editions of the game rules (at the time of the event) must be used. In the case of new release game rules and faction/army/codex books, a 1 month grace period is often customary however, and is quite acceptable.
- League points will only be gathered from individual placings. Team and "doubles" placings will not count.
- It must be a WA event.
- Results from the event must be published on (or made available via) WestGamer within 1 month of the event being run. Any results released to the public outside of this period will not be counted.
- All game sizes must be a minimum of 1500 points and at least 4 rounds must be played.
- Due to the extreme nature of Warhammer games using the "Storm of Magic" expansion, tournaments permitting the use of rules from this book are not considered as League events.
WARHAMMER 40,000 EVENTS
- All game sizes must be a minimum of 1500 points and at least 4 rounds must be played.
- Due to the extreme nature of Warhammer 40,000 games using the "Apocalypse" expansion, Apocalypse scenario tournaments are not considered as League events.
WARMACHINE & HORDES EVENTS
- All game sizes must be a minimum of 35 points and at least 4 rounds must be played.
- Warmachine & Hordes tournaments using the "Unbound" expansion rules for large games are not considered as League events.
- Tournaments with other significant variations from the standard formats (such as the "Foodmachine" can cheating mechanic) that affect gameplay are not considered as League events.
Setting these minimum requirements is a tricky issue. On one hand, we certainly don't want the league to be creating a "approved event standard" that tournament organisers feel pressured into adopting in order to be included in the league - for fear that if they don't their player attendance will be impacted negatively. We also don't want a situation (like which has already happened this year) where players who attend an event that barely meets the attendance required - has someone drop out and thus push the event below the number of players required for inclusion and denying everyone else at the event the opportunity their scores added.
On the other hand - we absolutely don't want the players who have done the hard yards by beating large groups of competitors at major events having their scores undermined by people who have taken out multiple smaller events with less competition, less rounds and of a smaller game size. The reward needs to accurately reflect the effort and skill involved in attaining it or it becomes meaningless.
With attendance in particular, one of the ways the league currently manages this is by incrementally making the scores that each player receives worth more at events within a larger size "bracket". Essentially - you beat more people with your overall finish, you get a higher score. Simple, fair, and transparent. However, with game size and number of rounds played there is no scoring range to represent the differences - largely because arguing which size game or number of rounds is the best measure for skill is a hugely debatable topic, and the more important factor is what the minimum standard should be in order to get a meaningful score. Obviously we can't rely on the results of an event with say - only 2 rounds to accurately determine skill. One bad matchup or random event during a game could have a huge impact on the final standings. The same logic applies to games with a much smaller model count than that which is recommended as the "standard" for the game system in question.
To protect the integrity of the leagues, there does need to be a few minimum event standards. If these didn't apply, then a bunch of mates could just get together and run a mini tournament in their garage every weekend and we'd have no rule to stop the scores from every one of these being added. Not only would this create a nightmarish amount of work to administer, but it would also flood the league with results generated from a small number of people - which is not what we're trying to facilitate at all. The weighting behind the information gathered needs to be substantial enough to warrant the time & effort required to track it.
I've listened to the feedback and reflected a lot on this issue during the year. Whilst I'm still very keen to hear more thoughts on the topic, the general conclusion I've come to is that we DO need to look at including the results from these smaller events in some kind of way that matters - but doesn't risk devaluing the points available at the more "mainstream" size tournaments. I'm actually pretty confident that this won't affect the players at the top end of the competitive scale at all anyway. After all - these are the people who typically get there by attaining big results at several medium to large tournaments throughout the gaming calendar, and any result they attain at a tournament with a small number of players, rounds, or army sizes is very unlikely to be one of their "top scores" that actually get counted towards that player's ladder standing. Who it will matter to - is the players at the more conservative end of the league, who frankly will probably get a bit more out of seeing their standings boosted at these smaller events where they can avoid some of the "sharks" of the WA tournament scene.
As a note - (because I'm sure someone will ask), if the change is made on 1st Jan to include scores from smaller events that have not appeared in the league ladders during 2012 but are still part of the last 12 month "window", then they can be added retrospectively and incorporated in the new ladders that go live at the beginning of the year.
Number of events incorporated into player standings
This was originally set up as the same value for each of the 3 systems (for consistency) and was based on the attendance trends for players across tournaments for the previous 12 months. As this is a changing and always evolving trend, it certainly needs to be reviewed again. I am also of the opinion now that we need to look at each game system separately. Attendance averages for one game are not necessarily the same as another (as you will see in my next post which will cover some of the current stats from the most recent 12 months).
Getting the number of events that count towards a player's score right is a bit of a balancing act. On one hand, the more event results we include - the more accurate the performance data is and it does tend to encourage players to get out and attend more tournaments. On the other hand, the last thing we want to be doing is simply assigning high scores to players for quantity of attendance rather than the quality of their performance. The best players are certainly not just the ones that can manage to attend just about every tournament during the year.
Currently, the league incorporates a player's best 2 results for the current 12 month cycle to create their league points total (not counting the bonus "podium points" that are available for attending and placing at additional events). My current thoughts based on the updated attendance data is to change this to the following:
- Warhammer 40,000: best 3 results
- Warhammer: best 2 results
- Warmachine/Hordes: best 3 results
Another thing to consider here is that if we alter the minimum requirements for an event to be counted towards the league tables (see the notes on inclusivity above), then this will increase the average attendance stats for each system as well.
Scheduling of Updates
A particular challenge this year has been getting updates made to each of the ladders in a timely fashion - which I know has been a little frustrating to some who have been waiting on their results to go up. In some cases I've been able to get it done pretty much immediately after the event is done, but in other cases it has taken weeks before I've been able to schedule to time to get it done, or another event has been approaching on the calendar so it's made sense to wait until that's done and incorporate multiple results in one hit.
All in all, the regularity of updates has been inconsistent - which is not ideal. I'm currently thinking that the sensible approach will be to do RHQ has started doing this year and schedule a single update at the beginning of each month. That way, everyone knows when the updates will be made and the workload from an administrative perspective becomes much more manageable as it's only 12 updates per year. It does mean that events run at the beginning of each month will have to wait a little longer to have their results go up, but overall I'm thinking that the pros outweigh the cons here.